Friday, May 19, 2006

Rocket science

Bush Administration rocket science:
A robotic NASA spacecraft designed to rendezvous with an orbiting satellite instead crashed into its target, according to a summary of the investigation released Monday.

Investigators blamed the collision on faulty navigational data that caused the DART spacecraft to believe that it was backing away from its target when it was actually bearing down on it.

"The inaccurate perception of its distance and speed ... prevented DART from taking effective action to avoid a collision," the summary said. (ABC News)
Absolutely emblematic of the Bush Administration. They thought they were going backward but they were going forward -- into a crash. They couldn't figure out their direction or speed, so they had a collision. They thought their technology would rendezvous with a Pentagon satellite and instead they smashed it. Oh, did I say it it ran out of gasoline?
DART successfully located the target satellite orbiting 472 miles above Earth and moved within 300 feet of it. But problems arose when DART tried to circle the satellite.

Investigators concluded that DART spent too much fuel steering itself toward the satellite. The excessive firings of its engines were caused by inaccurate navigational data from its on-board computer.

Determining that it wouldn't have enough reserve fuel to complete the mission, DART began shutting down about 11 hours into the mission, but not before crashing into the satellite.
Of course an investigation into the DART fiasco uncovered the usual managerial incompetence and failure to listen to professional scientists that has become the hallmark of the Bush Administration:
Investigators also raised issues with the mission's management style, saying that lack of training and experience caused the DART design team to shun expert advice. They also found that internal checks and balances were inadequate in uncovering the mission's shortcomings.
That's just the stuff we know about.
The 10-page document summarizing DART's failure comes a year after the spacecraft was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Last month, NASA said it won't release the investigative board's full 70-page report, citing sensitive information protected by International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
International Traffic in Arms Regulations? So I guess this wasn't exactly the peaceful uses of outer space and the thrill of exploring the cosmos.

The Bush Administration. Not satisfied to be the laughingstock of the world, they're shooting for being the laughingstock of the entire solar system.